Ever wondered why retaining facts from a documentary is more accessible than retaining them once you’ve heard them from someone? Or why does seeing someone perform a poem with small actions and dance help memorize it better than just hearing someone recite it?
The answer lies in a concept called ‘Learning Styles.’ People experience the world around them in unique and different ways. This viewpoint of unique experiences varies from person to person. Neil Fleming, the theorist who coined the term VARK (visual, Aural, Reading/Writing, and Kinesthetic) refers to the different learning styles which indicate how learners perceive, interact with, and respond to the learning environment. According to this model, Learning is more effective when the teaching style matches the learning style of the learner.
Addressing this, in this post, we will be discussing the best study tips for visual learners to participate in and practice even more. Explore more below.
Visual learning: How is it different?
The Visual part of this term, according to Fleming, refers to those who are better able to retain information when they use graphs, charts, hierarchies, flashcards, presentations, symbols, videos, illustrations, and other things that teachers use to represent words (in place of words).
Unlike standard ways of learning, visual learning is different as it helps students understand and grasp matters by associating ideas, words, and concepts with images, graphics, charts, and mind maps. The ideology behind enhanced learning and concept retention skills comes via visuals wrapped in anything that can be seen, observed, analyzed, and remembered that mostly including images or videos.
Visual learning helps in developing many distinctive aspects like problem-solving, decision-making, and regressing better understanding skills. When an individual is able to visually imagine a concept, a thought, a talk, or an outcome – it leads to enhanced decision-making skills with perspective-building that helps in evaluating the aftermath of a judgment.
Some of the advantages that visual learning offers are as follows:
- Helps retain information better and aids recall when the material is presented visually.
- Helps in understanding complex problems in a simpler form with the use of diagrams, graphs, etc
- Aids in conceptual understanding
- Adds a fun element to classroom teaching, which increases the probability of the students paying more attention
Study tips for visual learners
Here are a few study tips and strategies that can assist you in improving your visual learning techniques:
1. Color code
Color-code helps in setting up themes in your notes. This will help in the gathering of information at a glance. For example, color code the dates with the events when studying history. Or, when studying science, color code the different mechanisms with their executions.
However, there are multiple ways in which color coding can be done. For example:
- Making use of highlighters: Use highlighters to mark a sentence or something that seems important. This will help you remember noteworthy points. When revising, also use a highlighter to mark what you know and what you got wrong, which will be helpful during exams, as you would remember what answers you got wrong previously. This will stop you from making the same mistakes again.
- Using differently colored sticky notes
When textual information is vast, write important pointers on different colored sticky notes. The different colors of the notes will help you segregate the type of information, and the pointers will make sure that you don’t spend too much time reading the entire text matter.
- Making notes with different colored pens
Not only is using differently colored pens fun, but it also helps retain the information you read. For example, write the headings in a bright color, followed by the content in a different color. As a visual learner, this will help you gather the important headings easily if you remember the brightly colored ink of the pens
2. Organizing notes
Unorganized notes might not ignite that same excitement to read since you learn using visual cues. Create clear, neat tabs and rewrite your notes to make them more organized. Leave spaces to differentiate between points, as too much information in a small space is not visually pleasing. Also as they say, “the more you write the better you learn”, is a fact that rings true in this situation.
3. Making use of photos and pictures
As the famous saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words” it is still true when it comes to learning and understanding study material. For example, it is easier to understand the climatic conditions of a country or the nature of a volcano through pictures and photos than trying to imagine it by only reading the text.
4. Making use of diagrams
Visual representations of information might help in solidifying a complex or an abstract topic. For example, when studying diagrams, it is elemental to grasp a process between the occurrences of the text that are in close relation to steps 1 and step 2.
5. Making use of flashcards
Flashcards are small note cards that are often used to test and improve memory through repeated information retrieval. Typically, flashcards are two-sided, with a prompt on one side and information regarding the prompt on the other side. Retaining certain information from the flashcards becomes easy with repeated trials. Making it a fun activity to involve in.
6. Watching videos of the topic
When learning from a credible and reliable source, watching videos that add value to your subjective understanding gives you a well-rounded view of topics. Observe that it is always easier to retain a movie scene-by-scene instead of recalling the chapters of a fictional book with no pictures.
7. Organizing information in the form of charts and tables
Remember the brightly colored chart papers on the walls of your school? This is a great study tip for those who learn visually. It is much easier to understand information when it has been organized into charts and tables than trying to understand the same information from a paragraph in the textbook.
8. Making use of mind maps
Mind maps or concept maps encourage you to connect new and current knowledge. This is because you add fresh ideas centered on a central theme (your existing knowledge). This improves your comprehension and understanding of the topic(s) you’re involved in.
9. Making use of concept maps
A concept map is strategically a diagram that shows a relationship between ideas. These can be used in the form of tables, flow charts, pie charts, timelines, etc. Concept mapping particularly helps in logically organizing material. They allow quick interpretation and grasping of concepts for learners. Such mind maps are based on concepts that may concern figures like ovals, circles, and boxes– all collectively known as nodes.
10. Drawing or doodling for a better understanding of topics
To pursue this step, you just need a pencil and a sheet to draw illustrations, figures, and diagrams that accompany the material you’re trying to learn. Even if you’re not the most artistic person in the room- the concept of drawing and doodling will help you learn the text faster and easier.
11. Using symbols for easy understanding and depiction of information
Using symbols while taking and making notes is useful as it saves time. A person who learns visually will be able to retain and remember a symbol representing certain words than the words themselves in their original form.
12. Using Mnemonics
Mnemonic techniques are instructional strategies designed for students using memory methods to learn concepts better. The concept imbibes visual and acoustic cues to help one retain lessons more effectively. The most common understanding of mnemonic techniques concerns concepts like rhyming words, acronyms, and keywords.
13. Making posters
Posters act as a stimulus for learning in students. It motivates one in focusing better which results in a better understanding of the text. As visual learners thrive when visual aids are interwoven into the studying material, poster making allows learners to organize and associate information in a way that it is retained and memorized more comprehensively.
14. Using infographics
Infographics are brief and summarized versions of the text in a picture that are more data-driven. They are a great tool that reinforces visual learning extensively. Because they incorporate images to highlight, explain, or improve text-based information; infographics are of utmost importance in educational settings. They catch learners’ attention, deliver information, and enhance the grasping capacity of an individual.
15. Making use of whiteboards and smartboards
Whiteboards and smartboards allow learners to interact and create visual content themselves. For example, drawing and writing on the board lead to a better understanding of concepts and material. Also, it is a fun activity that lets one feel confident about their appearance, and ideas and gives them the power of representation in front of others.
16. Making use of educational websites
Visual learners enjoy learning with visual explanations. And educational websites provide exactly this and much more to their consumers through explanatory videos, and historical lessons that concern the concept of what, when, how, why, where, and when. In addition, with the increasing technology, course material is being converted into electronic mediums where learners can watch videos on topics, solve quizzes and increase their knowledge base.
17. Reading books
Books tend to contain different shapes and forms, including diagrams, graphs, and pictures which appeal to people who are visual learners. Research shows that reading books encourage high-order thinking skills. It is believed that those who read more have better cognitive memory that lets them remember things/ texts by sight. Through books, one can picture what is in their head as these methods are primarily scripted in the form of images, cartoons, paintings, graphics, and posters in the book.
“Visual-Spatial Thinkers need to see to think,” says Bette Fetter. Access to resources may come to many, but the one who makes the most of these resources for personal upliftment is the wisest! Visual learning can transform the learning experience as the students are able to form the connections between the concepts learned that enhances the retention power in them. Since, both the imagination and logic works in visual learning, both sides of the brain participate simultaneously in the learning process. Imbibe an experience in your child, an experience that promises great knowledge and learning, unfurling new things every day. We hope that with the help of the above strategies, students can learn easy, fun, and interactive ways to incur visual learning.
Dr. Deepak Kansal, MBBS MD (Psychiatry) is currently working as Nodal Officer of the District Mental Health program at Civil Hospital Sangrur for the last 3 years. Apart from psychiatry and substance use patients, Dr. Deepak also treats children with neurodevelopment disorders including Intellectual disability, specific learning disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorders, and other psychiatric disorders. His research work involved studying psychiatric comorbidities in cancer patients. You can follow him on Linkedin